The first case of monkeypox has been confirmed in the United States. Health officials in Massachusetts confirmed a single case in a man who recently traveled to Canada and another patient was in quarantine while being tested.
Monkeypox is the newest disease to start spreading rather mysteriously since covid. The recent outbreaks have occurred in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Canada, and now the United States. Monkeypox is primarily seen in western Africa and tends to be rare elsewhere.
“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in an adult male with recent travel to Canada,” the department said in a statement released Wednesday.
Gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men are particularly at risk, as evidenced by the recent outbreak in the U.K. which occurred amongst men in the LGBTQ+ community.
“The evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact,” Dr. Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a statement released Monday. “We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”
According to the CDC, monkeypox is transmitted through close contact between people and infected animals, infected people or materials contaminated with the virus. It can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets.
“With this current outbreak, it does seem to also be spreading more easily than what has been our prior experience,” Dr. Celine Gounder said, who is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist. “There are aspects of this that are unusual, but again, I think we just need to wait and see, get a bit more information before we draw any real connection.”
On Thursday Canada’s public health agency confirmed 2 cases of monkeypox and investigating 17 other suspected cases.
“Tonight, the Province of Quebec was notified that two samples received by the NML (National Microbiology Laboratory) have tested positive for monkeypox. These are the first two cases confirmed in Canada,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement, adding Canada had never before seen monkeypox cases.
Portugal’s General Directorate for Health said it was also investigating 15 suspected cases and that all were identified this month in the area around the capital, Lisbon.
All the Portuguese cases involve men, most of them young, authorities said, on Wednesday. They have skin lesions and were reported to be in stable condition. Authorities did not say if the men had a history of travel to Africa or any links with recent cases in Britain or elsewhere.
British health authorities said on Wednesday they had identified two new cases of monkeypox, one in London and another in southeast England. They said neither case had previously traveled to Africa and that it was possible they were infected in Britain. The cases had no known links to other previously confirmed patients, suggesting there may be multiple chains of monkeypox transmission already happening in the country.
Mateo Prochazka, an STI expert and head of the UKHSA team investigating the cases, told the Telegraph: “Close contact between two people (such as during sex) could facilitate transmission – but this has never been described before.
“However, the high proportion of cases in the current outbreak in England that are gay or bisexual (4/7, 57%) is highly suggestive of spread in sexual networks.
“This is further suggested by the fact that common contacts have been identified for only two of the four latest cases.
What is even more bizarre is finding cases that appear to have acquired the infection via sexual contact – this is a novel route of transmission that will have implications for outbreak response and control.”
Initial symptoms of the monkeypox virus include fever, headache, myalgia, fatigue, and swelling of the lymph nodes. After one to two days, lesions may develop in first the mouth and later on the face and extremities like the palms and soles. The rash may further spread, and the number of lesions can range from just a few to thousands.
Han Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, expressed concern on Friday that monkeypox could accelerate in spreading as people gather together during the summer for parties.
“As we enter the summer season in the European region, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate, as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity, and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many,” Kluge said in a statement.
Is this the new pandemic that Bill Gates has been threatening since Covid began to wane in the public eye?